A List of Fantasy Films from 1930-1959

A fantasy world
A fantasy world | Source

1930s

The Blood of the Poet (1930): A series of fantasy stories

Fantasy Type: Art Comes to Life

Starring: Lee Miller

Four stories where an artist makes a creation with surprising results. This a film by Jean Cocteau..

A Connecticut Yankee (1931): An American travels to the times of King Arthur

Fantasy Type: Legend of King Arthur, Time Travel

Starring: Will Rogers, Myrna Loy, Maureen O'Sullivan

Not truly fantasy but definitely with a fantasy feel. The Yankee played by Will Rogers uses the magic of American know-how to astound King Arthur and his knights. I personally prefer the remake of this movie made with Bing Crosby in 1949.

Tarzan the Ape Man (1932): The first of a series of movies about Tarzan

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Tarzan, the king of the jungle, meets explorers, falls in love, and fights monsters.

Alice in Wonderland (1933); An early version of the classic tale with some familiar names.

Fantasy Type: Alice in Wonderland

Starring: W. C. Fields, Cary Grant, Gary Cooper, Edward Everett Horton, Charlotte Henry

Interesting historical film mostly for the famous actors. My favorite version of Alice in Wonderland is the one done with Martin Short and Gene Wilder in 1999. I also enjoy the scenes and music from the Disney classic from 1951.

King Kong (1933): The first movie about this famous monster

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy, Monster Movie

Starring: Fay Wray, Robert Armstrong, Bruce Cabot

I'm not big on monster movies. If you can ignore the limits of the special effects of the time, there is artistry to be found. The great ape is captured in the Jungle and brought to New York.

Son of Kong (1933): Sequel to King Kong

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy, Monster Movie

Starring: Robert Armstrong

I haven't seen this one. If you are a big fan of the original King Kong, why not check out the sequel.

Lady for a Day (1933): A poor fruit seller must impersonate a lady of wealth to ensure that her daughter can marry into royalty.

Fantasy Type: Gangster Fantasy

Starring: May Robson, Warren William, Ned Sparks

This is one of my favorite movies. Technically, it's not a fantasy but it embraces a fantasy theme. A poor fruit seller has been sending all of her money to her daughter who believes that her mother is wealthy. Luckily, she is friends with a good-hearted gangster.

Babes in Toyland (1934): Laurel and Hardy help Mother Goose

Fantasy Type: Mother Goose

Starring: Stan Laurel, Oliver Hardy

Laurel and Hardy must help Mother Goose protect Toyland. I enjoyed it when I was a kid.

Chu Chin Chow (1934): A musical based loosely on Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves

Fantasy Type: Arabian Nights

Starring: George Robey

I haven't seen this. It sounds interesting. I will check it out if I can find a copy.

Roman Scandals (1934): A musical where an expert on Roman History time travels back to ancient Rome.

Fantasy Type: Time travel

Starring: Eddie Cantor,

I haven't seen this one. I assume that it is probably dated. If I am able to find it, I'll update this review after watching it.

Death Takes a Holiday (1934): Death decides to check out the world.

Fantasy Type: Death as a Person

Starring: Fredric March

Death comes out to the world and falls in love. Recommended for fans of Fredric March or folks open to older movies that have interesting characters.

Tarzan and his Mate (1934): Sequel to Tarzan the Ape Man

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Tarzan and Jane confront poachers.

Dante's Inferno (1935): A carnival shows scenes from Dante's Inferno

Fantasy Type: Carnival Fantasy, Dante's Divine Comedy

Starring: Spencer Tracey, Rita Hayworth

I haven't seen this one. It sounds interesting. A fairground show has scenes from Dante's inferno which is very successful and leads to temptations similar to the punishments shown.

The Ghost Goes West (1935): A man finds out a castle is haunted

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Robert Donat, Jean Parker

I haven't seen this one. Robert Donat is usually a very entertaining actor.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935): An early version of Shakespeare's fantasy classic.

Fantasy Type: Shakespeare

Starring: James Cagney, Olivia de Havilland

Shakespeare comes to the big screen circa 1935 with James Cagney. I haven't seen this one and while I like Shakespeare's play, I haven't scene a movie version that stands out as my favorite.

She (1935): Explorers wander upon the ancient City of Kor

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy, Lost Civilization

Starring: Randolph Scott, Nigel Bruce, Ellen Gahagan

A classic fantasy novel by H. Rider Haggard comes to the bring screen. Explorers find the mysterious She, the ruler of the ancient City of Kor.

Scrooge (1935): One of the first sound version of the Christmas Carol

Fantasy Type: Ghosts, Christmas Fantasy

Starring: Sir Seymour Hicks

I haven't seen this version of the Christmas Carol.

The Man Who Could Work Miracles (1936): A man is given special powers by angels

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Roland Young, Joan Gardner

I haven't seen this one. I am a big fan of Roland Young in the move Topper from 1937.

Tarzan Escapes (1936): Tarzan the Ape Man #3

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Tarzan gets captured and escapes.

Ali Baba Goes to Town (1937): A hobo dreams about living at the time of Arabian Nights

Fantasy Type: Arabian Nights

Starring: Eddie Cantor, Roland Young

A hobo falls asleep and dreams that it is the time of the Arabian Nights. He attempts to propose economic reform similar to Roosevelt's New Deal.

Lost Horizon (1937): A plane crashes in the Himalayas and the survivors find a magical place.

Fantasy Type: Lost Civilization

Starring: Ronald Colman, Jane Wyatt, Sam Jaffe, Edward Everett Horton

Wow. A classic. One of the best. Survivors of a plane crash make it to Shangra La. It seems perfect but is it too good to be true? Dated but still worth a watch.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937): The classic fairy tale done by Disney

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Adrianna Casseloti

The first full-length animated film. This is the one that launched Disney Studios. This is an instant classic that stands up surprisingly well even today. One of the best fantasy films ever made for children.

Topper (1937): Two well-meaning ghosts cause trouble for their friend Topper.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Roland Young, Cary Grant, Constance Bennett

This is one of my favorite comedies as a kid. Lots of fun. Cary Grant at his best and Roland Young does great as Topper. An uptight banker is encouraged to have fun.

A Christmas Carol (1938): The classic Christmas story by Charles Dickens

Fantasy Type: Christmas Fantasy, Ghosts

Starring: Reginald Owen, Gene Lockhart, Kathleen Lockhart

A solid, early version of the Christmas Carol. My favorite is the one in 1951 with Alistair Sim but this one is also very good.

Topper Takes a Trip (1938): Sequel to Topper

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Roland Young, Constance Bennett, Billie Burke

Topper, the uptight banker returns, and has more adventures with ghosts.

Tarzan Finds a Son! (1939): Tarzan the Ape Man #4

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Tarzan and Jane find a baby that survives a plan crash.

The Little Princess (1939): A rich girl is suddenly without money

Fantasy Type: Cinderella Story

Starring: Shirley Temple, Cesar Romero

While not really a fantasy, the story is very close to Cinderella. Shirley Temple is rich and then she is not. She never gives up hope and magical things happen even if they are not truly magical.

On Borrowed Time (1939): A man traps death in a tree

Fantasy Type: Death as a person

Starring: Lionel Barrymore, Sir Cedric Hardwicke

I saw this movie as a kid and really enjoyed it. It is probably my favorite of the death comes to visit movies. The Seventh Seal is better but this is one is enjoyable in its own right.

Vasilisa the Beautiful (1939): FIrst Russian film with a fantasy theme

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Georgy Millyar

A son brings home a frog which is is really a princess turned into a frog.

The Wizard of Oz (1939): Dorothy is off to the magic land of Oz.

Fantasy Type: Wizard of Oz

Starring: Judy Garland, Frank Morgan, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, Jack Haley, Billie Burke, Margaret Hamilton

What can I say about this? This may be the best fantasy movie ever made. It is definitely the best fantasy musical for kids of all time. A classic all the way around. Lurking in the background of a magical experience is the amazing talents of Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley. Memorable appearances by Frank Morgan in many forms, Billie Burke as Glinda the Good, and Margaret Hamilton as the wicked witch of the west.


The Wizard of Oz (1939)

Dorothy and Glinda
Dorothy and Glinda | Source

1940-1944

Beyond Tomorrow (1940): Three ghosts attempt to help a couple.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Jean Parker, Richard Carlson

Three wealthy men die and must decide between going to heaven or helping their friends on earth. One couple is in particular need of their help.

The Blue Bird (1940): A young girl and her brother search for the Blue Bird of Happiness

Fantasy Type: Magical Lands

Starring: Shirley Temple, Nigel Bruce,

Not the best Shirley Temple movie but it has heart. It's dated but it has some nice moments. This is recommended for Shirley Temple fans. It is a watchable family movie but not as good as Shirley Temple's The Little Princess (1939) or the Bachelor and the Bobby Soxer (1947).

Road to Singapore (1940): the first of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road To movies

Fantasy Type: Travel Fantasy

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

These is not really a fantasy but it has all the flavor of a fantasy movie with a journey, friendship, having encounters along the way, and avoiding trouble.

Pinocchio (1940): The classic story of the wooden puppet who wants to be a real boy

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Dickie Jones, Cliff Edwards

Another classic from Disney. Walt put his heart and soul into this one and I think it is a masterpiece. I am not a fan of the Pinocchio story but I am a big fan of this film. What an achievement! One of the greatest fantasy films of all time.

The Thief of Bagdad (1940): One of the classic tales of the Arabian Nights

Fantasy Type: Arabian Nights

Starring: Sabu, Conrad Veidt, June Duprez

One of the best of the Saturday Matinee-variety adventure movies. Very fun to watch for the whole family. A blinded prince is in trouble until he meets the loyal and wise thief of Baghdad. Hold onto your seats for this wonderful ride.

Fantasia (1940): Disney's pairs animation with classical music

Fantasy Type: Wizards, Greek Myth, Animal Fantasy

Starring: Leopold Stokowski

Disney provides animated accompaniment to classical music. The high point of the movie is the Sorcerer's Apprentice starring Mickey Mouse. I find the experience inconsistent. Some parts are breathtakingly beautiful and other parts are a little slow. Well worth giving a watch.

Tarzan's Secret Treasure (1941): Tarzan the Ape Man #5

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Jane and Boy are kidnapped. Tarzan has to rescue them.

The Road to Zanzibar (1941): The second of of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road To Movies:

Fantasy Type: Travel Adventure

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

This is not really a fantasy but it has all the elements of a fantasy. The boys start out in a circus and soon must flea. Inevitably, they run into Dorothy Lamour and have adventures.

The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941): The Devil comes to New Hampshire in 1840.

Fantasy Type: The Devil comes to town

Starring: Walter Huston, Edward Arnold

The devil comes to New Hampshire and tries to get some souls. It's been a while since I've seen this but I remember really enjoying it. I have to catch it again. Walter Huston and Edward Arnold are always good.

Dumbo (1941): A circus elephant has very large ears which enable him to fly.

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy, Circus Fantasy

Starring: Edward Brophy

Dumbo the elephant is an outcast. His ears are too big. When his mother tries to protect him, she is taken away. Luckily, he befriends a mouse who tries to help him. This is a classic. I have never been able to get excited about it but I know lots of folks who really enjoy it.

Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941): A person is given a chance to try out another person's life

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Robert Montgomery, Claude Rains, Edward Everett Horton

An angel mistakenly believes a person will die in a crash. To make up for it, the person is given a chance to live another's person's life. I prefer the version with Warren Beatty called Heaven Can Wait (1978).

The Iron Crown (1941): A new king is given a cursed crown which he tries to destroy

Fantasy Type: Kings and Magical Items

Starring: Masimmo Girotti

This is an Italian fantasy film. I have not seen it. From reading the description, I will check it out when I have a chance and update this review.

The Reluctant Dragon (1941): A peace loving dragon does not want to fight the knight.

Fantasy Type: Dragons

Starring: Robert Benchley

I remember seeing this as a child. It is a nice and pleasant story. I would like to check it out again. It is a solid Walt Disney story even if it is not as famous as the other fantasy classics.

Topper Returns (1941): The third movie in the Topper series

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Roland Young, Billie Burkey, Joan Blondell

A ghost contacts Topper and tries to get him help solve a murder.

I Married an Angel (1942): A musical about a man who marries an angel.

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Jeanette MacDonald, Nelson Eddy

A man decides that he can only marry an angel. When he meets an angel, problems arise when the angel cannot lie.

The Road to Morocco (1942): The third in the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road To movies

Fantasy Type: Travel Adventure

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

The boys start out on the remains of a ship floating in the sea. Eventually, they will run into Dorothy Lamour and have further adventures. This is not a fantasy but has all the elements of a fantasy story.

Tarzan's New York Adventure (1942): Tarzan the Ape Man # 6

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Johnny Weismuller, Maureen O'Sullivan

Tarzan, Jane, and Boy head to New York City.

Jungle Book (1942): Mowgli is raised by wolves, makes friends with a bear, and confronts his enemy the tiger.

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy, Animal Fantasy

Starring: Sabu

This is a live-action version of the Jungle Book. I have not seen it.

Bambi (1942): A year in the forest from the perspective of a deer

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Bobby Stewart

A classic film. The images are amazing and have stuck with me. I saw it for the first time as a child. Warning for parents: there is one very sad, heart-breaking scene here. If you like movies appropriate for the family about lovable animals who talk and interact in a very dangerous world, then you will love this film.

I Married a Witch (1942): A mortal man marries a witch.

Fantasy Type: Witches

Starring: Fredric March, Veronica Lake

A fun movie with Fredric March learning that his wife is a witch. Veronica Lake is fine as the witch. A nice comedy.

The Devil's Envoys (1942): The envoys of the devil come to the castle of Baron Hugues

Fantasy Type: Devil comes to town

Starring: Arietty

I haven't seen this. It's a French movie from 1942. It looks interesting. I'll update this review if I get to see it..

Cabin in the Sky (1943): A man who has died is given extra time in order to redeem his soul.

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Eddie "Rochester" Anderson, Louis Armstrong

I haven't seen this movie. It sounds interesting. A man returns to earth and tries to change his ways.

A Guy Named Joe (1943): A man recently deceased come to earth to help another

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Spencer Tracey, Van Johnson, Irene Dunne, Lionel Barrymore, Esther Williams

Spencer Tracey is always good. I saw this one a while ago. I don't remember it but with this cast, I'll have to catch it again.

Happy Land (1943): After his son dies, his father is visited by the ghost of his grandfather

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Don Ameche, Francess Dee, Harry Carey

I haven't seen this one. Don Ameche is usually good. I will try to find it. If I see it, I will update this review.

Munchhausen (1943): A singular fellow who can literally lift himself into the air by his own bootstraps.

Fantasy Type: Baron Munchaussen

Starring: Hans Albers

I have not seen this movie. I am not a big fan of the Baron Munchaussen stories. Still, this is a story that has been loved by many. This version was made in Germany during World War II.

Between Two Worlds (1944): People who die find themselves on a mysterious boat

Fantasy Type: Life After Death Fantasy

Starring: John Garfield, Paul Henreid

During World War II, group of people suddenly find themselves on a barge with people who they believed were dead.


Heaven Can Wait (1944); A man dies and makes his case to the Devil that he be accepted into hell.

Fantasy Type: The Devil comes to town

Starring: Don Ameche, Gene Tierney, Charles Coburn

Don Ameche tries to convince the devil that he should be accepted into hell. The devil says that the case is not so clear cut and they review his life. This is a good movie but I found it a bit long. I greatly prefer the classic It's A Wonderful Life (1946) with Jimmy Stewart.

The Canterville Ghost (1944): A cowardly man become ghost.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Charles Laughton, Robert Young

A man is cursed by his father in the Seventeenth Century. He is bound to haunt a castle until he can inspire someone to be courageous.

It Happened Tomorrow (1944): A newspaper man is given a newspaper that reveals what will happen in the future.

Fantasy Type: Ability to see into the future

Starring: Dick Powell, Linda Darnell

I haven't seen this movie. It sounds interesting. I will update this review when I see it.

Thief of Bagdad (1940)

The Thief of Bagdad on his magic carpet
The Thief of Bagdad on his magic carpet | Source

1945-1949

Where Do We Go From Here (1945): During World War II, a man who is unable to join the services, finds a genie.

Fantasy Type: Genie

Starring: Fred McMurray, Anthony Quinn

A man who wants to join the armed forces finds a genie. He makes a wish to be join the army only to find that the genie is confused and sends him to the wrong time period.

Blithe Spirit (1945): A man who doesn't believe in the supernatural invites a medium to his house and is surprised when a ghost is summoned.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Rex Harrison, Constance Cummings, Kay Hammond

Rex Harrison is usually very good. I have not seen this movie but it is on my list of movies to watch.

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945): Oscar Wilde's classic story about a man who doesn't seem to grow older.

Fantasy Type: Magic Item

Starring: George Sanders, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford

This is a classic. This is the best version of Oscar Wilde's story that I've seen as film. This is a great film especially if you don't know the story.

Sylvie and the Ghost (1945): A fake ghost inspires a real ghost

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Jacque Tati, Odette Joyeux

A french film. I haven't seen it but I am adding it to my list. A father hires actors to pretend to be a ghosts which leads the appearance of the real ghost.

A Thousand and One Nights (1945): The Arabian Nights taking place in the 1940s.

Fantasy Type: Arabian NIghts

Starring: Cornel Wilde, Phil Silvers

I saw this. It's not really that good. I guess it could be interesting if you are Phil Silvers fan.

Dead of Night (1945): A man worries that everything is happening just like a nightmare he keeps having.

Fantasy Type: Dream Fantasy

Starring: Michael Redgrave

Technically, this is a horror movie but it's not very scary. The acting, ideas, and even comic bits are wonderful. This is one of my favorite halloween movies. It's an old British film that's well worth watching. Is it a dream? Is it real?

Road to Utopia (1946): Fourth in the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby road movies

Fantasy Type: Travel Fantasy

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

Crosby, Hope, and Lamour head out to the Klondike. This is not strictly a fantasy movie but has all the elements of a fantasy movie.

Peter and the Wolf (1946): Brave Peter and his band of pets take on the wolf

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Sterling Holloway

This is really great. An animated accompaniment to the classic music of Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev.

Angel on My Shoulder (1946)::A slain gangster makes a deal with the devil.

Fantasy Type: Devil comes to town

Starring: Paul Muni, Anne Baxter, Claude Rains

A dated but well-acted movie. A slain gangster makes a deal with the devil and gets another chance at life. It's a classic.

Beauty and the Beast (1946): A very beautiful, image-rich version of Beauty and the Beast

Fantasy Type: fairy tale

Starring: Jean Marais, Josette Day

This is Cocteau's masterpiece. Visually brilliant. This is a classic. The story itself run second to the imagery.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946): An angel visits George Bailey.

Fantasy Type: Christmas Fantasy, Angels

Starring: Jimmy Steward, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore

George Bailey is thinking seriously about jumping off a bridge. Never worry, the good angel Clarence will try to change his mind. First, Clarence must learn about George's life and Clarence can use his magic. A wonderful movie to watch during the holidays.

A Matter of Life and Death (1946): A man avoids death and asks for more time.

Fantasy Type: Angels, a fantasy about Death

Starring: David Niven, Raymond Massey

Court room trial to determine if a man can stay alive. He was supposed to die but avoids death. He falls in love and soon finds himself in a court room to determine if he gets to stay alive longer.

The Road to Rio (1947): The fifth Hope and Crosby Road movie.

Fantasy Type: Travel fantasy

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

Two out of work musicians try to avoid troubles and eventually are on a ship heading to Rio. This is not strictly fantasy but it has all the fantasy elements.

Sinbad the Sailor (1947): The story of Sinbad's Eighth Voyage

Fantasy Type: Arabian NIghts

Starring: Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Maureen O'Hara, Anthony Quinn

Sinbad searches for the lost treasure of Alexander the Great.

Cinderella (1947): A Russian version of the classic fairy tale

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Erast Gann

This is a Soviet musical of the classic tale. I have not seen it.

Repeat Performance (1947): A woman who shoots her husband on New Year's Eve gets to travel back in time to prevent the murder.

Fantasy Type: Time Travel

Starring: Joan Leslie, Richard Basehart

A woman who shoots her husband makes a wish on New Year's Eve 1946. Her wish is granted and she travels back in time. Now, she tries to prevent the circumstances that led to the fateful night.

The Bishop's Wife (1947): An angel falls in love with the wife of a bishop that he is supposed to help.

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: David Niven, Cary Grant, Loretta Young

This is a nice movie. Cary Grant does a great job as an angel who falls in love. David Niven is straight laced as the bishop and Loretta Young is excellent as the woman who loves her husband but is very much taken in by the charming Cary Grant.

Down to Earth (1947): A Greek muse comes down to earth.

Fantasy Type: Greek Mythology

Starring: Rita Hayworth

I haven't seen this movie. Rita Hayword is a muse who comes down to earth because she is unhappy about how a broadway musical portray the Greek muses.

The Secret LIfe of Walter Mitty (1947): A timid man escapes his problems by using his imagination.

Fantasy Type: Imagination Fantasy

Starring: Danny Kaye, Virginia Mayo, Boris Karloff

A timid man is surprised when his reality and his imagination collide. Now, he can no longer escape into his imagination.

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947): A lonely widow falls in love with a charming ghost.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Rex Harrison, Gene Tierney, George Sanders

A young widow moves into a house that is haunted. She is very much charmed by the ghost. This is a very pleasant movie. Rex Harrison, as usual, provides a strong performance as the ghost of a captain.

Miracle on 34th Street (1947): The Santa Claus at Macy's may be the real deal.

Fantasy Type: Christmas Fantasy

Starring: Maureen O'Hara, Natalie Wood, John Payne, Edmund Gwenn

This is a very charming movie. Lots of fun. Edmund Gwenn is great as the man who might be Santa Claus. This is one of my favorite Christmas movies.

Miranda (1948): A mermaid captures a married man and will only let him out if he agrees to show her London

Fantasy Type: Mermaids

Starring: Glynis Johns, Griffith Jones

This is a British comedy. The man agrees to the mermaid's demands and gives her a tour of London.

Luck of the Irish (1948): A man meets a leprechaun.

Fantasy Type: Leprechauns

Starring: Tyrone Power, Ann Baxter

A news reporter from New York travels to Ireland and meets a leprechaun. He falls in love with Ireland and then he returns to New York.

Unknown Island (1948): Explorers discover an island with dinosaurs and other monsters

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Virginia Grey, Philip Reed

Explorers find a previously unknown island. Soon, they are fighting off mutinous natives and ferocious dinosaurs. Will they make it out alive?

Mr. Peabody and the Mermaid (1948): Man meets mermaid

Fantasy Type: Mermaids

Starring: William Powell, Ann Blyth

A man nearing the age of 50 meets a flirtatious mermaid. Trouble ensues. This is not one of William Powell's best movies but it is still watchable. I prefer Splash (1984) with Tom Hanks and Darryl Hannah.

Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948): Abbott and Costello take on Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula.

Fantasy Type: Horror Fantasy

Starring: Bud Abbott, Lou Costello, Bela Lugosi, Lon Chaney Jr

Abbott and Costello find themselves up against Frankenstein, the Wolfman, and Dracula. Good Halloween movie. It's a bit dated and it is only recommended for fans of Abbott and Costello.

That Lady in Ermine (1948): At midnight, paintings in an ancient gallery come alive.

Fantasy Type: Ghosts

Starring: Betty Grable, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Cesar Romero

Ghosts get involve to bring two people together. I haven't seen this. I'll update this review if I can find it.

Vice Versa (1948): A father and son change bodies.

Fantasy Type: Body switching

Starring: Roger Livesy

I have not seen this. This type of movie has been done many times before. My favorite version is Freaky Friday (1976) with Jodie Foster.

The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad (1949): Two Disney classics bundled together

Fantasy Type: Ghosts, Animal Fantasy

Starring: Eric Blore

Disney combined two movies into one. The story of Ichabod Crane is a ghost story where he meets the headless horseman. The story of Mr. Toad is an animal fantasy. Both are good stories for children.

Alias Nick Beal (1949): The devil tries to make a deal.

Fantasy Type: Devils come to town

Starring: Ray Milland

Joseph Foster is a district attorney who is being blackmailed by a gangster. He is contacts by a strange fellow named Nick who wants to make him a deal to hand over evidence.

Tarzan's Magic Fountain (1949): Tarzan the Ape Man and the Fountain of Youth

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy

Starring: Lex Barker, Brenda Joyce

A woman claims to have found the fountain of youth. She and Jane search for it.

Siren of Atlantis (1949): A man claims to have found Atlantis

Fantasy Type: Lost Civilizations

Starring: Maria Montez

A man from the French Foreign Legion is found unconscious in the desert. When awakened, he claims to have discovered the lost civiilzation of Atlantis.

Queen of Spades (1949): A woman sells her soul to the devil in exchange for success at Faro.

Fantasy Type: The devil comes to town

Starring: Anton Walbrook, Edith Evans

A soldier hears about a woman who has mastered Faro. He seeks to learn her secrets.

Rocking Horse WInner (1949): A boy who rides a rocking horse can predict the winner of a horse race

Fantasy Type: Magic Item

Starring: Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies

A boy can predict winners of a horse race by riding a rocking horse. There is a price to be paid. Based on the short story by D. H. Lawrence.

Mighty Joe Young (1949): A movie very similar to King Kong

Fantasy Type: Jungle Fantasy, Monster Movie

Starring: Robert Armstrong

Joe is taken to America and appears to be dangerous. Supporters try to prevent him from being put to death by the authorities.

Alice in Wonderland (1949): The classic story of Alice in Wonderland

Fantasy Type: Alice in Wonderland

Starring: Carol Marsh

I haven't seen this version of Alice in Wonderland and I am not familiar with any of the actors.

The Emperor's Nightingale (1949): A fairy tale from Hans Christian Andersen

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Boris Karloff

An animated film from Czechoslovakia about an emperor who seeks a nightingale.

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949): A Connecticut Yankees travels to the time of King Arthur.

Fantasy Type: King Arthur

Starring: Bing Crosby, Rhonda Fleming, Sir Cedric Hardwicke

This is my favorite version of this story. Bing Crosby is great as Sir Boss who travels back in time and bewitches the Arthurian world with modern knowledge.

Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court (1949)

A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court | Source

1950 - 1954

Beauty and the Devil (1950): The devil attempts to make a deal.

Fantasy Type: The devil comes to town

Starring: Michel Simon

I haven't seen this one. This is a French movie where in the 1700s, an aging alchemist is given a chance for eternal youth if he is willing to make a deal with the devil.

Francis (1950): The first adventure of the famous talking mule.

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor

A soldier during World War II is rescued by a talking muie. Everyone thinks he's crazy when he says a mule can talk. He and mule become friends.

Cinderella (1950): The classic fairy tale done Disney style

Fantasy Type: fairy tale

Starring: Ilene Woods

Disney's take on Cinderella with singing mice. As a kid, I really liked this version. A classic.

Orpheus (1950): The story of Orpheus done by Jean Cocteau

Fantasy Type: Greek Mythology

Starring: Jean Marais

Jean Cocteau's take on the story of Orpheus. This is beautiful and imagery is more important than story.

Harvey (1950): Jimmy Stewart claims that his best friend is an 6 foot rabbit

Fantasy Type: Magical Creatures

Starring: Jimmy Stewart

This is a wonderful film. A man who may be crazy or may have an invisible friend calmly explains about his invisible friend. A nice comedy that succeeds because of Jimmy Stewart's performance.

Mr. Peek A Boo (1951): A French comedy about a man who can walk through walls.

Fantasy Type: Special Powers

Starring: Bourvil

A man who can walk through walls falls in love with a beautiful thief.

Angels in the Outfield (1951): Angels come to the rescue of a baseball team.

Fantasy Type: Baseball fantasy, Angels

Starring: Paul Douglas, Janet Leigh

The Pittsburgh Pirates are in last place. The manager is need of help. To his surprise, an angel comes to help.

Pandora and the Flying Dutchman (1951): A woman named Pandora meets a mysterious captain.

Fantasy Type: Sea Fantasy

Starring: James Mason, Ava Gardner

A popular woman meets a strange ship's captain who may be the captain of the legendary Flying Dutchman.

Superman and the Mole Men (1951): Superman comes to the big screen

Fantasty Type: Superhero

Starring: George Reeves, Phyllis Coates

Superman must confront the mysterious Mole Men.

Miracle in Milan (1951): An Italian fantasy film

Fantasy Type: Magic Wishes

Starring: Emma Gramatica, Francesco Golisano

A boy is found in a cabbage patch and adopted by a kindly old woman. When his adopted mother dies, a boy is sent to an orphanage. Later in life, the ghost of his adopted mother gives his dove that grants wishes.

Francis Goes to the Races (1951): The second feature in the Francis the Talking Mule series

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor, Piper Laurie

Francis and Peter go to the horse races and encounter gangsters who are trying to fix the races.

Alice in Wonderland (1951): Disney's Alice in Wonderland

Fantasy Type: Alice in Wonderland

Starring: Ed Wynn, Sterling Holloway, Kathryn Beaumont

Some great moments. I don't find that the whole story holds together as well as the distinct parts. My favorite version is Alice in Wonderland (1999) with Martin Short.

Scrooge (1951): A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Fantasy Type: Ghosts, Christmas Fantasy

Starring: Alistair Sim, Jack Warner

This is my favorite version of a Christmas Carol. This is one the one that I see each Christmas. I highly recommend this version. Evil Scrooge will learn the error of his ways.

Hans Christian Andersen (1952): A fictionalized version of Hans Christian Andersen's life

Fantasy Type: Fair Tale

Starring: Danny Kaye

A fictionalized life of Hans Christian Andersen with stories included. When I was a kid, I liked it. When I saw it recently, I found it a bit slow and overly long.

It Grows On Trees (1952): A family finds two trees in the back yard that grow money.

Fantasy Type: Money fantasy

Starring: Irene Dunne, Dean Jagger

Comedy arises as a family finds money attached to trees in their back yard and they must figure out what to do.

Francis Goes to West Point (1952): The third adventure of Francis the Talking Mule

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor

Francis and Peter head out to West Point.

Jack and the Beanstalk (1952): Abbott and Costello meet the Giant

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Bud Abott, Lou Costello

The comedy team of Abbott and Costello take on Jack and the Beanstalk.

Road to Bali (1952): The Sixth Hope and Crosby Road movie

Fantasy Type: Travel Fantasy

Starring: Bob Hope, Bing Crosby, Dorothy Lamour

Hope and Crosby are song-and-dance men in Australia. They are soon heading toward Bali where they run into Dorothy Lamour.

Sadko (1953): A Russian Fantasy Adventure

Fantasy Type: Magical Quest

Starring: Sergei Stolyarov

A young musician seeks the bird of happiness. He travels to Egypt and India.

The 5,000 Fingers of Dr. T (1953): A boy who doesn't like playing piano suddenly finds his worst fears coming true.

Fantasy Type: Dream Fantasy

Starring: Tommy Rettig, Hans Conreid

Bart Collins does not like his piano teacher. He believes that he has cast a magic spell on his mother. Dr. Seuss wrote the screenplay for this movie.

Francis Covers the Big Town (1953): The fourth movie in the Francis the Talking Mule series.

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor, Gene Lockhart

Peter becomes a new reports and gets framed for murder. It's Francis the Talking Mule to the rescue.

Peter Pan (1953): Disney's take on this classic story

Fantasy Type: Peter Pan

Starring: Bobby Driscoll, Kathryn Beaumont, Hans Conreid

I'm not a big fan of this story. I always felt that the pirates, lost boys, Indians, and fairies didn't quite fit together. I guess that Disney does it as well as it has been done. I greatly prefer the movie Finding Neverland (2004).

Prince Valiant (1954): A knight joins King Arthur's Round Table

Fantasy Type: King Arthur

Starring: James Mason, Robert Wagner, Janet Leigh

The son of an exiled king is sent to Camelot to learn to be a knight.

Brigadoon (1954): A musical about finding a mysterious village

Fantasy Type: Mysterious Place

Starring: Gene Kelly, Van Johnson, Cyd Charisse

Two Americans are in Scotland and wander upon a mysterious village that only appears out of the mist for one day every hundred years.

Francis Joins the WACS (1954): The fifth movie in the Francis the Talking Mule series

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor

Peter reenlists in the army but mistakenly gets assigned to the Women's Army Corps. He has misadventures there and once again, it is Francis the Talking Mule to the rescue.

Mad About Men (1954): A gymnastics school teacher meets up with a mermaid.

Fantasy Type: Mermaids

Staring: Glynis Johns

This is the sequel to Miranda (1948). A gymnastics school teacher agrees to change places temporarily with a mermaid who looks exactly like her.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1954): A mysterious creature is sinking ships

Fantasy Type: Sea Fantasy

Starring: Kirk Douglas, James Mason, Peter Lorre

Although this story is technically science fiction, there is too much adventure and magic for it to not be included in this list. The giant squid, the inventions of Captain Nemo, and the spirit of the story in my opinion fit into the genre of fantasy.

Ulysses (1954): The classic story of Ulysses from Greek/Roman Mythology

Fantasy Type: Greek/Roman Mythology

Starring: Kirk Douglas, Anthony Quinn

I have had trouble getting into this version of the story. Kirk Douglas is normally fantastic. I probably need to give this movie another try.

Ulysses (1954)

Ulysses returns and the suitors are not happy
Ulysses returns and the suitors are not happy | Source

1955-1959

Francis in the Navy (1955): the sixth movie in the Francis the Talking Mule series.

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Donald O'Connor

Peter mistakenly gets transferred from the army to the navy. Francis the Talking Mule gets involved with his mishaps.

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1955): A German film of the famous tale

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Elke Arendt

I have not seen this one. It is live action with the dwarves played by children.

Bowery to Bagdad (1955): The Bowery Boys find a magic lamp

Fantasy Type: Magical Item

Starring: Leo Gorcey, Huntz Hall, David Gorcey

The Bowery Boys were a popular series of movies. In this movie, the Bowery Boys find a magic lamp but only certain members of the group can get wishes granted.

Son of Sinbad (1955): A journey through the Arabian Nights without magic

Fantasy Type: Arabian Nights

Starring: Dale Robertson, Vincent Price

Sinbad and the poet Omar Khayyam seek the favor of the khalif who has jailed them. There's no magic but it is in the time of the Arabian nights with characters inspired by the A Thousand And One Arabian Nights.

The Sword and the Dragon (1956): A Russian Fairy Tale

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Boris Andreyev

A king has adventures. I haven't seen this but it looks very interesting. In medieval Russia, an aging knight gives a sword to pilgrims.

Around the World in Eighty Days (1956): An Jules Verne grand adventure

Fantasy Type: Adventure Fantasy

Starring: David Niven, Shirley MacLaine, Cantinflas, Robert Newton

Wonderful movie. This is not a fantasy per se but it has all the elements of a fantasy. Phileas Fogg and Passpourtout have magic in their passion to go around the world in 80 days in order to satisfy a wager. This is a classic film. Fun for the whole family.

The Angel Who Pawned Her Harp (1956): An angel comes to a pawn shop.

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Felix Aylmer

An angel goes to an Islington pawn shop in order to inspire the pawn browker there. The angel sells her harp to raise money.

Carousel (1956): A Rodgers and Hammerstein musical

Fantasy Type: Angels

Starring: Shirley Jones, Gordon MacRae, Gene Lockhart

A man who dies wishes to come back to earth for one day to make amends.

Francis in the Haunted House (1956): The seventh film in the Francis the Talking Mule series

Fantasy Type: Animal Fantasy

Starring: Mickey Rooney

Francis witnesses a murder and helps out a reporter he meets.

The Red Balloon (1956): A story of friendship between a boy and a giant, red balloon

Fantasy Type: Childhood Fantasy

Starring: Pascal Lamorisse

A classic short film. A boy forms a very special relationship with a giant red balloon. When I was a kid, I really liked this. A classic, family movie with special appeal for younger viewers.

Seventh Seal (1957): A knight plays chess against death during the crusades.

Fantasy Type: Death as a person

Starring: Max Von Sydow

One of the greatest films ever made. More surreal than fantasy but with enough fantasy to keep it on our list. This a fantasy film for anyone with a love of cinema. If you are interested in the history of film, make sure to watch this film. A disillusions knight tries to make sense of what's happening during the crusades.

Pied Piper of Hamelin (1957): A man comes to town promising to rid a town of its rats

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Van Johnson, Claude Rains, JIm Backus

I'm not a big fan of this story. Townspeople refuse to pay a magic man for ridding their town of rats so he takes all their children.

The Snow Queen (1957): Hans Christian Andersen's classic story

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Vladmir Gribkov

I haven't seen this. This is a Russian animated film. An updated version has been released with voices by Mickey Rooney, Kirsten Dunst, and Kathleen Turner.

Cinderella (1957): A made-for-tv musical version

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Julie Andrews

I haven't seen this version. It might be interesting just to see a very young, incredibly talented Julie Andrews.

The Viking Women and the Sea Serpent (1957): A B-movie about viking women

Fantasy Type: Viking Fantasy

Starring: Abby Dalton, Susan Cabot

When the viking men don't return, the viking women go in search of them. At some point, a giant sea serpent appears. This is directed by Roger Corman. I haven't seen this one but if you want to see a fun Roger Corman movie, check out the Raven (1963) with Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Peter Lorre, and a young Jack Nicholson.

Night of the Demon (1957): A demon curse has been placed

Fantasy Type: Demons

Starring: Dana Andrews

Even though this is a horror movie, it has many elements of fantasy. I see this more as fantasy related to demons. It is also very well done. For that reason, I am including it in th is list.

Bell, Book, and Candle (1958): Jimmy Stewart meets a witch

Fantasy Type: Witches

Starring: Jimmy Stewart, Kim Novak, Jack Lemmon, Elsa Lanchester, Ernie Kovacs

Jimmy Stewart falls in love with a witch. A pleasant romantic comedy.

The Seventh Voyage of Sinbad (1958): One of the tales of Sinbad from the Arabian Nights

Fantasy Type: Arabian Nights

Starring: Kerwin Mathews

This is special. Ray Harryhausen crafted the stop-motion animation. The story is fantastic and the while the special effects are dated by today's standards, the artistry is still very interesting. Watch Sinbad defeat the monsters, confront the evil wizard, and rescue the princess.

Tom Thumb (1958): A live action version of Tom Thumb

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Russ Tamblyn, Peter Sellers, Terry Thomas

A good live action version of Tom Thumb. I'm not that excited by the story but if you are, then you might enjoy this version.

Bobbikins (1959): A baby can talk like an adult

Fantasy Type: Family fantasy

Starring: Shirley Jones, Max Bygraves

A newborn baby starts talking like an adult and offers dad stock market tips that turns out to be very accurate.

Black Orpheus (1959): A retelling of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice

Fantasy Type: Greek Myth

Starring: Marpessa Dawn

I haven't seen this movie. It is set in the world of the 1950s in Brazil.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959): Scientists travel deep into the earth's crust

Fantasy Type: Lost Civilization

Starring: James Mason, Pat Boone

Adventurers travel into a cave and down into the earth's center. There's too much adventure here for this to not be fantasy. Fun. A good family movie.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959): Disney takes on leprechauns

Fantasy Type: Leprechauns

Starring: Sean Connery, Janet Munro, Albert Sharpe

Darby loves to tell a tale about leprechauns. He claims to have been captured by them. Meanwhile, there's talk that he may get fired from his job and the town bully is trying to marry his daughter. Dated but lots of fun. A pleasant musical. Hear Sean Connery sing.

Santa Claus (1959): A Mexican fantasy film about Santa Claus

Fantasy Type: Christmas Fantasy

Starring: Jose Elias Moreno

A demon tries to kill Santa Claus during Christmas time in Mexico.

Sleeping Beauty (1959): Disney's take on the classic fairy tale

Fantasy Type: Fairy Tale

Starring: Mary Costa

This is largely animation to accompany Tchaikovsky's ballet. This is one of my favorite Disney animations of all time. I personally rank it third to Snow White and Pinocchio. Very enjoyable fairy tale.

Darby O'Gill and the Little People (1959)

The King of the leprechauns offers a pot of gold
The King of the leprechauns offers a pot of gold | Source

Which decade was the best for fantasy?

  • 1930s
  • 1940s
  • 1950s
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2 comments

Greensleeves Hubs profile image

Greensleeves Hubs 13 months ago from Essex, UK

A very complete compendium of movies of the fantasy genre and related genres.

Some of the more obscure titles are probably difficult to access these days, but it would be interesting to watch them, partly to see how fantasy sequences were handled at a time when special effects were limited, and partly to see how the philosophy of the age treated themes such as sci-fi and mythology differently to what would be the case today.


Robert Sacchi profile image

Robert Sacchi 9 months ago

Thank you. Reading the list brought back memories. Have you considered adding the original "Cat People" (1942) or its sequel "The Curse of the Cat People" (1944)? I noticed some of the Tarzan movies weren't on your list. Is there any reason why some were left off the list? "Son of Kong" is considered a weak sequel.

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